Thursday, July 7, 2011

My First Organic Garden

I haven't planted a garden in a couple of years and my last attempt wasn't very fruitful to say the least.  I really wanted to be able to walk out my back door and pick my own fresh veggies again and know they were pesticide free.  I was in sort of a dilemma, however, since I severely injured my back last year and could not do the labor involved with the tilling, digging, bending, etc.  Luckily, I found a gardener who puts organic gardens in for those who don't really know much about the organic thing, don't have the time, or just plain don't want to do the dirty work.

The small 4 x 10 space was filled with certified organic seeds and plants. I was shocked at how much was planted in this tiny space! I could probably fit eight of these 4 x 10 gardens in my existing garden space! Some "extras" such as a lime were added to the clay soil to balance it out as well as worm casings. Mulch topped off some of the plants such as the tomato plants to help keep moisture in.  I had never used mulch in my garden in the past and wondered how much of a difference it would really make. 

Fast forward about six weeks and I was amazed at how full and beautful the space was!  At this rate we were going to have a huge bounty all summer!  Fast forward another week or so and we got about 5 inches of rain in a 2-3 day period - not good. I literally walked out to the garden on a Friday after the rain had stopped and it still looked great.  I walked out there Saturday and the entire garden looked like it had been fried by the sun and leaves were brown and shriveled as if I had forgotten to water it for weeks! How could this happen overnight and what the bleep killed my garden so quickly?

I frantically called the gardener and she told me she had just been to another clients house that had the same issue.  Seems that so much rain in a short period of time combined with the mulch trapped too much moisture and caused a fungus/mold.  I was told what to get from the local garden store to apply and also told to pull the mulch away so the soil could dry out.  Several plants didn't make it but some seem to be coming back to life. I'm holding my breath to see what is actually going to produce and hopefully I still end up getting more from my garden than from the store.  The verdict is still out on using mulch as it seemed to cause a huge problem with too much rain.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Lamb Chops

Holy Mother of All Hops!  What could be better than being a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher and given the opportunity to create something great with any New Belgium Brewing Company Beer?!!!  I was ecstatic when I was notified that I would receive a stipend from New Belgium Brewing to create a recipe or pairing using their beer.  Fat Tire has been at the top of my list of faves for awhile, but after this challenge I have found another to give Fat Tire a run - Sunshine Wheat.

 I definitely envision myself sitting outside this summer cooling off with several of these!

Since it was Easter, I knew I wanted to come up with something to use on my lamb chops.  Now I have used beer marinades before on other cuts of meat, but I have never used a marinade on lamb.  I'll admit that my first attempt had me wincing and I was ready to pitch it but continued to tinker with it and will post that one later.

I love rosemary, mint and garlic with lamb but needed to expand my safe repertoire.  I am known for pantry surfing and coming up with pretty great dishes on a whim so I surfed and conquered!  After opening one Sunshine Wheat to take a few sippy sips and explore all the wonderful flavors, I ended up having to open another due to more than sampling!

 After making the  marinade I let the chops bathe in the goodness overnight and grilled for Easter dinner. Let me just say that those were the best lamb chops I have concocted, even those who don't usually like lamb were licking their chops!

New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Marinade
1- 12 oz. Bottle Of New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Beer
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Liquid Aminos *see note below
4 large Shallots diced
6 cloves Garlic minced
6 Tangelos juiced (can use any citrus orange in color)
2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1 - 3/4 oz. package of fresh Mint torn
1/2 cup Oregano (fresh) roughly chopped
1 cup Parsley (fresh) roughly chopped
1 large Jazz apple diced
1-2 tablespoons Aged Balsamic Vinegar * I used an 8 yr. aged Balsamic
1-2 tablespoons of Peppercorns (I use a mixed Peppercorn)

Stir all ingredients in large bowl.
Transfer to a food processor or blender and mix well.
Put lamb chops in a single layer baking dish and pour marinade over chops, turning lamb over to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pull lamb out of refrigerator and let sit until close to room temperature.
Pour marinade from lamb into a saucepan and boil approximately 2 minutes.
Grill  chops 8-12 minutes  making sure to baste both sides with the marinade.  Grill until desired internal temp/doneness is reached.  My grill has a separate side for searing that I used to sear chops first 1-2 minutes on each side before transferring to grill side.

*Liquid Aminos  is a great alternative to soy sauce (tastes just like soy) and the perfect way to make a healthy substitute.  Non-GMO Soybeans are used and is Gluten-Free.  Can be found in most grocery stores in the health/organic/natural  food aisle. My grocery carries the Bragg brand.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Life Happens

Wow! I have been absent from my blog since November due to LIFE, yes, LIFE HAPPENS. I feel as though I have been so removed from the foodie world these past months that the above picture from Siberia is so apropos (thanks to Marty Friend for his great camera skills).  As much as my passion for food brings joy to my life, sometimes LIFE is such a stronger current and something has to give.  Giving pause so that LIFE could happen, I have been absent from blogging for five months.  I hope to get back in the swing of things this week, however, I can't seem to find my USB cord for my camera.  Alas, LIFE  has also shoved my camera to the backseat and the kids have been on a scavenger hunt for the past couple of days. I wish them luck!